Against the wishes of the government, a judge granted bond to a doctor and his wife as they await trial in a historic genital mutilation case.
The prosecution argued that the defendants should remain locked up, claiming they are both flight risks and a danger to the community given their alleged crimes: Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, of Farmington Hills, is accused of letting another doctor use his clinic to perform genital cutting procedures on two 7-year-old Minnesota girls; his wife, Farida Attar, 50, is accused of holding the girls’ hands during the procedure to keep them from squirming and to calm them.
Defense lawyers have claimed the Attars did not engage in any criminal act, and that the procedure at issue is a protected religious rite-of-passage that involved no cutting. They also argued the Attars are not a danger to the society and have no reason or desire to flee, convincing U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to release them on bond.
Friedman, who stressed that he believes the case involves “serious” charges, issued the following conditions in granting bond to the defendants:
* They have to surrender their passports.
* They will be on house arrest, on GPS tethers, and are not allowed to communicate with anyone except family members or their lawyers.
* They will only be allowed to leave the home to visit their lawyers or for doctor’s visits — both of which have to be approved first.
“I think he is thrilled,” defense attorney Mary Chartier said of her client, Dr. Attar. “He is anxious to fight this case and clear his name.”
The Attars will likely not be released from jail until Thursday, when their lawyers surrender their passports to authorities.
The Attars have been jailed for more than a month since getting charged in April in an explosive case that has captured international attention and planted a bull’s-eye on a small Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra.
The Attars are Bohras, along with the lead defendant in the case, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Northville, who is accused of performing the cutting procedures on the two Minnesota girls.
The prosecution claims that Nagarwala and the Attars have been subjecting numerous minor girls to genital cutting procedures for a dozen years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward dropped a bombshell in court today in telling Friedman that the government believes the defendants have subjected as many as 100 victims to the procedure. To date, the government has identified eight minor girls who have been subjected to genital cutting at the hands of Nagarwala, she said.
Woodward argued that the victims in this community are told to keep the procedure a secret. And the defendants, she said, have encouraged others in their community to lie to authorities about the procedure and deny that it ever took place.
“Due to the secretive nature of this procedure, we are unlikely to ever know how many children were cut by Dr. Nagarwala,” Woodward said, later adding, “The Minnesota victims were not the first victims.”
Nagarwala, meanwhile, remains locked up pending the outcome of her trial. Her attorney, Shannon Smith, was in court today. She declined comment on the Attars’ case, noting only that she, too, will seek to have her client released on bond.
If convicted, Nagarwala and Dr. Attar face up to life in prison; Attar’s wife faces up to 20 years.
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